Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lewis Dairy Farmhouse

July 2016
This graceful Victorian-style home at 313 Jackson Road, Kerrville, was erected by Judge Danforth Rogers Lewis in 1914 for his family home after he purchased land for a dairy on the outskirts of Kerrville. The land today is Westland Place.  The house is not in its original location.  It was reportedly moved from the corner of what is now West Main and Jackson Road when the land was sold for development about 1925.  The concrete picnic table in Westland Park was once the watering trough in the dairy barnyard. The house originally had seven bedrooms and no indoor plumbing.

47-year-old Danforth R. Lewis and his family, including wife Lucinda, daughter Mary, and son Arthur L. "Pinky" Lewis, came to Kerrville in 1914 from New York.

D. R. Lewis received his L.L.B. in 1896 from Cornell University and practiced law in Auburn, NY.  He first ran for office in 1897, campaigning as a Republican for Justice of the Peace.  He served 1897-1901, then was elected special county judge in Cayuga County and served three terms. He had been a Republican candidate for the New York state assembly from Cayuga County in 1910.

After poring through old newspapers and other publications, I cannot determine why he packed his bags and left upstate New York for Kerrville. Often tuberculosis was the reason, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. Why would a judge and attorney leave an established practice to move two thousand miles away and give up practicing? Was there a friend who encouraged the move? Was it wanderlust? Were they tired of harsh winters?  Did he decide he didn't like the law?  Do any of my readers know? 

The first mention of the Lewis Dairy in Kerrville is in the March 20, 1915, Kerrville Mountain Sun when D. R. and A. L. Lewis posted a trespass notice. "Notice is hereby given that no hunting or other trespassing will be permitted on the Lewis Dairy Farm.  D.R. and A. L. Lewis."
By June of that year they were well enough established in business that they were advertising "pure Jersey milk and cream, delivered to your door twice daily."

In January 1917 they advertised for an experienced dairy man to live in a tenant house and work on the farm.

By 1918 the Lewis Dairy had expanded into hogs, featuring registered Poland China hogs, including a "fine service male."

In January 1920 in a bow to the growing demand for housing they offered one of their cottages for rent "no sick", in other words, no one with tuberculosis.

The February 20, 1920, Kerrville Mountain Sun ran a front-page story about the search for a hospital for veterans and an offer the Lewis Dairy made to sell the property for that purpose.  (The hospital was built east of town instead and became the VA Hospital.)  As a result, rumors were unfortunately floated in town that the dairy was closing.  These were refuted in a letter published in the newspaper.

It was for sale though, and in April 1925 a group of local businessmen purchased most of the Lewis Dairy property for a development that became Westland Place Addition. Then in April 1926 Henry Woodruff purchased what remained of the dairy.  The sale must have not have gone through because the Lewises were again running the farm at the time of Danforth's  death in 1928.
By 1930 Winford Warren took over the dairy. There were no future newspapers items after December 1930, so the dairy may have closed.

Lucinda Lewis died in 1937 in her home near the intersection of Cottage and Lewis Streets.
Danforth, Lucinda, Arthur (and his wife Cynthia) are all buried at Glen Rest Cemetery.

If you have a house you'd like me to research and post on this blog, please post below or email me at dgaudier at gmail dot com.  I use this address only for the blog.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Four more historical markers approved

Kerr County has a rich history, and a collection of more than 80 state historical markers proves that. Today the Kerr County Historical Commission was notified that four additional places in the city of Kerrville have been approved for markers.
It will be many months before the marker installations and dedications but I thought I'd share this good news. Click on the links for more about these buildings.

The first three places are being named Registered Texas Historic Landmarks in recognition of their architectural and historical significance.
They are the Kennedy-Peterson House on Earl Garrett Street,
and two buildings on the Depot Square:
Kerrville Lumberyard (a.k.a. Beitel's Old Place, now used as an event center) and
Kerrville Depot (currently home to "Rails, a Cafe at the Depot").

The fourth place is Barnett Chapel Methodist Church, which is receiving a subject marker in recognition of its long rich history of service dating back 120 years.

Congratulations to those who have worked to preserve and protect our historic built environment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

400 Earl Garrett Street

Now at 728 Jefferson Street, Kerrville, Grimes Funeral Chapel's original address was 400 Earl Garrett Street. The building was purpose-built in 1930 for Smith Funeral Home as reported in the Kerrville Times of 3 July 1930.

Work Begun on New Funeral Home
Work began Saturday on a building at the corner of Jefferson and Earl Garrett streets to be occupied by the Smith Funeral Home, Dick Smith proprietor.
The funeral home is to be a two story frame building, 75X49 feet. The lower floor will be used for the funeral business and on the second story will be located the show room and some living apartments.
The Remschel Lumber Co. was awarded the contract for the building at $7,000.  Mr. Buffington has the carpenter work in charge.
The old Hazlett home stood on the corner upon which the new Funeral Home is being erected, and more recently owned by Judge Wallace from whom the property was purchased by Smith.  The residence has been moved to the rear of the lot and will face Earl Garrett Street.  The building for the Funeral Home will be completed in about 60 days.

When it opened, a new Packard ambulance was featured. 

Dick Smith had been the manager and funeral director for Peterson's Funeral Service prior to going out on his own. Peterson's was located at 631 Water Street. (The link takes you to an interesting story of one of downtown's oldest buildings.)
An addition was put on in 1966 by the Plummers, adding a new chapel facing Jefferson "adjoining the present location".  The business name has changed over the years.At this location it was known first as Smith Funeral Home, then Plummer-Smith (1951), followed by Grimes Plummer (1977), and then the current Grimes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Lemos Street business district

Undated photo, probably 1980s. Kerr County Historical Commission Collection.

Once upon a time Kerrville was segregated into three groups--white, black, and Mexican.  Each group had its own commercial area.  Lemos Street was the heart of the commercial area for what was then called the Mexican community. Part of the 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map is shown here.
In 1930 the commercial addresses in the 300 block on Lemos (between Main and Jefferson) were:
305, 306, 317, 319, 324, 326-328, and 330. Of these addresses in 1930,  only 305 (Wahoo's Seafood) 317, and 319 remain.

305 Lemos has had a variety of occupants over the years.  In 1926 Pedro Calderon had a shoe repair shop. It was vacant in 1964, and housed Bennett's Radio & TV 1968. By 1983 Hill Country Pest Control was located here. They remained at this location for about 25 years.

317 Lemos was known as Henry's Place, a bar and cafe, in 1940 to at least 1947, possibly longer. It does not appear in some city directories  and gets little mention in the newspapers and for that reason I have not been able to piece together much history.
(Note: a demolition permit was issued in 1964 for 317 Lemos so it may not even be the same building.)

319 Lemos housed a series of cafes and bars for many years. I don't have a full list of business names.  The first known was the Monterey Cafe, owned by G. M. Flores from at least 1928 to 1936, possibly longer.

Monterey Cafe. undated. From Kerr County Historical Commission collection.

Later Magdaleno Gonzales, a cook at the VA Hospital, operated a bar, cafe, and pool hall here, from about 1950 when he made alterations to the property in 1950. He owned it until 1957 when "A fully equipped cafe" was offered for sale.  It was Joe's Place 1963-1968, and  Aleman's Place by 1987. After some 65 years as a bar and cafe, the building experienced a complete change of purpose when Faith Temple Gospel Church purchased the property and worshiped here from 1994 to 2006.

The schools, churches, the Mexican Union community building, and most of the old commercial buildings are gone.  Along with a barber shop on Main Street, only this small stretch remains.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fawn Valley Estates

This neighborhood doesn't have as interesting a story as some do--at least not that I could find!

Fawn Valley Estates, which was developed by the Scotch Investment Company of Houston, lies  between Bluebell Addition and Harper Road. The streets include Lake Drive, Hancock Drive, Warbler Drive, and Temple Drive. Approved by the Kerrville City Council in February 1962, in March it was referred back to the planning and zoning board for changes along the right of way along Harper Road. In May it was annexed to the city.
The first mention of a home for sale in Fawn Valley was in March 24, 1963, when a three bedroom, two bath house of white Austin cut stone--still under construction--was advertised in the Kerrville Mountain Sun. Most of the houses are constructed of brick in a mid-century ranch style.
 In October 1963 Fawn Valley residents, who had been on a rural route, began receiving city mail service. The post office gave detailed instructions on placement of mail boxes, which the Kerrville Mountain Sun dutifully reported.
Development seems to have peaked about 1967.